Resume Challenges

Writing up a resume with a history of disability is a tough one. I’ve literally been working months on rewriting and developing my resume and learning to deal with online platforms like Linkedin and Indeed, both of which have automated arranger’s that do not work for me. I am getting there. I feel I am two thirds of the way there. My wording needs to be more verb than noun, right now its more noun than verb. I’ve sought the help of friends over career centers for critique of my resume reincarnations. I went the career center route first and was pulled in twenty directions without assistance on my resume. Which, was what I most needed help with, given the challenges I have to present myself in a way on paper that will get me an interview, that is where I need help. Once in the interview, I’m not worried, presenting and selling are what I am best at.

To make it more difficult is the fact that I have a lot of experience and many skills that have been honed over the years of my life, but many not in the usual sense. I have many blank spots in my work history, not just the last disabled reasons. Starting with seven years as a feature dancer in an industry that one can’t mention on a resume or in an interview. I’m saying it here, stupidly probably, because I’m sick of constant omission. I had worked my way up to the top of that line, it was a better deal then. Kicked out of school in the 7th grade, I got my GED at the age of 33 in 1996 with a 6th grade education and didn’t need to study for it, I took it and passed. I worked as a Mental Health Technician on a locked crisis psych unit at a community hospital for seven years. In a time when you didn’t need a degree, it was heavy duty on the job training. It was a college education in and of itself, but I have no paper that says I can do the job.

I stayed home to raise my son in 1994 moving to Quebec in 1998. Aside from little part time jobs, I have no paid work history here till 2001. But, during this time, I founded and incorporated a 501c3 non profit, multifaceted, four-day festival that in its third year attracted 4,000 campers and attendees and became solvent. I created a successful seminar that involved two languages, two countries and speakers from New York, Quebec, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and New Brunswick, in the middle of no where Fort Kent, ME and revived a three day Convention. All events were successes, all events asked me to stay on or recreate them. The festival, started in 1995, is still running today. The other events were one time events. I have orchestrated many fundraisers, concerts, and dinners. But, all of them were unpaid, non profit events to support and promote a sober way of life. “Sober way of life” events vs “Drunk way of life” events, which one do you think I could easily put on my resume.

In 2001 I went to work at MBNA America, which has since closed its doors in the US and sold out to Bank of America. When I worked for them, they were the third largest credit card issuer in the world. They sold credit cards for over 300 businesses, institutions, banks, clubs, stores, etc. They were the first bank to do so. I worked as a telemarketer for them, three years. I was a sales coach and was frequently listened to by others struggling to sell certain cards or at all, to learn from my approach. My strongest cards were the cards for lawyers and the high end Quantum Card for the elite. I never once missed my commission. Then, I got sick in 2004.

On temporary disability,  after having an operation and hoping the two lesions I had in the brain were because of a compression on the neck that had been fixed, I set to work going to school to give my self more options for work. At this time I was a single mother of two ages five and fourteen. The plan was to go for a Bachelors in Business Sciences with a minor in writing to back up my organizing events experience and become a professional for profit event organizer.  I made it half way, with a 3.76 GPA, of which all of my business and writing classes were 4.0. I loved every minute of it, starting out the way I have in life, it was a dream come true, I loved school, always have. I had a bad MS attack cognitively and that knocked me out. But, I did successfully complete 64 credits, but I can’t get my transcripts. I was forced to file a bankruptcy on the government loans. I recently learned that one small one was over looked and nine years later has tripled. Till that’s paid off, I can’t get the transcripts, which would be nice to have, because they show my marks. Suffice it to say, I can’t pay that off till I have a job. That was 2009.

Several years to recuperate and then an attempt to build up my 26-year skill in jewelry making into a business. I opened an Etsy shop, organized and built up enough product for shows and entered the Fire Mountain Gems international contest against some of the best beaders in the world and won Gold. I was building and doing very well, but was progressively getting worse from MS and couldn’t keep it up. I took down the Etsy shop, I declined invitations to enter other contests and stopped the shows.

I worked for Suzie Q’s Beads, Buttons and Bijoux for 2 years, 2013 to 2015. I did well at her store. Here I sold high end costume jewelry, jewelry making supplies and taught patrons basic jewelry technique. I worked 11 to 15 hours per week. Suzie downsized and then closed her shop and I was let go. That one hurt, I very much loved working there and worked with a great team of people. Suzie told me that I was the best sales person she’d ever hired or known.

I have presented successfully in one form or another for non profit causes, my own art work, credit cards and services and a sober way of life for decades. I am a starter upper, I have vision for business and I am tenacious. I have overcome and healed a broken childhood, an alcohol problem (26 years sober), quit smoking, and most recently, put MS into remission and am reversing damage via the Wahls Protocol, which really does work. I am thoroughly trained in crisis intervention including giving Mental Health Status Exams, Intake, admissions, and suicide watches. I am proficient in Microsoft Word, Power Point, Desk Top Publishing, and am becoming proficient in Excel. I am well versed in online platforms such as Word Press, Etsy, Facebook, and Instagram. I am a research hound, strong writer, and I can type 60 words a minute. I am 55 with a disease that most know as “unrecoverable” and complicating matters further I have mostly my word on my skills having no degrees and no certificates to prove it.

I do have many professional friends who will give me references.  My aerobics and gym Instructors, who watched first hand my transformation right before their eyes, will also give me references. One suggested I get certified and coach others, but after looking into it, its $1,200.00. Again, need a job to get a job.

Anyway, who wants to hire me?!

Line on up, I’m dying to hear from you…..have I got a deal for you!

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-and-woman-handshake-567633/

Its a question of patience, initiative and time.

I am diligently working on preparing myself for the workforce. I am career counseling with one center and will make an appointment with another tomorrow. The two centers have different strengths. I am utilizing an online site run by the Alberta government as well. My resume was a challenge to configure due to lapses in time making my resume look like hell in chronological order. Dealt with this by grouping my experience and listing them by years rather than specific dates. I finally called my university to inquire about the hold on my transcripts. I had to drop out in 2009 due to a MS attack and qualified for a government bankruptcy due to disability of my student loans. However, one small one was overlooked and that loan has now tripled due to nine years of fees and interest. Until that is paid, I can’t access my transcripts. I gave them my information and expect to be hounded by them soon to pay. Which will have to wait. Oh, the wreckage of Multiple Sclerosis!

I had thought to start right away on full time and actually applied for a full time job, than had a heart attack over it. I’ve been cautioned to start with volunteer, then part time first. Which, I am doing. I applied for a reasonable job and hope to hear from them. If I take on too much, too fast, I’ll lose track of my commitment to the Wahls Protocol, which is the reason I am able to work at all. Fatigue is the other problem, there are still days where I need to sleep and do nothing. How will that work with a full time job. My ultimate goal is to eventually and slowly build myself up into a full time job situation while successfully incorporating the Wahls Protocol into that schedule, thereby, if this goes well, allowing me to wean off of disability. Time will tell that story.

Time….I’ve been held back for so long, I am raring to get out there and do something! I am ambitious by nature. A self starter. Patience is needed or I can set myself back. Not the plan! This month, I want to get to a registry and learn what is required for me to get my license. That’s a priority. I have the use of a friend’s car to practice with once I get my Learner’s Permit. I am sure it will be like riding a bike, I drove for 25 years, but its been eight years and I will need to rebuild my confidence behind the wheel. In the mean time, I am anxious to begin a part time job, I am sick of being flat broke all the time due to the cost of the Wahls Protocol. I have debt to pay on, a driver’s license to obtain, citizenship to file for (I’m on a Landed Immigrant Status) and, eventually, a car to finance. I am getting there….one carefully stacked boulder at at time.

 

Bonne Sante

 

Note: The monthly symptoms page has been updated.

Picture from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/background-balance-beach-boulder-289586/

A shift in attitude

Until I stop crying about the state of my affairs where I am consistently focused on what other people have or don’t have, I will go nowhere. Even if good breaks come, I won’t see them because I will be entrenched in the practice of someone else who has it better. Having Multiple Sclerosis is not what I had hoped for, but here we are. I must see past the “unfair’s” in order to cope my very best with what I’ve been dealt. For one thing, we never know what another’s “cross to bear” is. When practicing jealousy and self pity I then constantly compare with what I assume other’s have: more money, more opportunity, better upbringing, ready access to education, etc. I assume a lot. You never know what that person has been through or where they’ve been in their lives by the one day I stand with them feeling the “why them’s and not me’s”. And just consider the complete waste of time, energy and how ultimately destructive this is. Time and energy I could direct into working towards an abundant future as I seek my path of purpose, whatever that is. Even if its only the purpose of being the positive one in the room, the big smile that greeted you and made your day better.

I grew up in an unconventional way, outside mainstream society. It wasn’t easy to work out of that and learn all that I hadn’t had the chance to learn. When I think that that wasn’t fair, then I remember I’ve been given a gift from my experiences. That being the opportunity to live among people of many walks of life giving me a birds eye view of the human condition more than someone who has been sheltered all their lives, living in one place with little experience outside of their one culture. On the other hand the person who has been sheltered all their lives may find that they are satisfied with a simpler life and is a stable, steady person. Something that I’ve always had to work hard to be.

Sickness happens, I’ve been given a gift. The Wahls Protocol is my ticket out, but it has taken a commitment of mind, body and spirit. Having MS is a great deal of work all by its self. If I have to work that hard to deal with an affliction and someone hands me a tray of tools that I need only commit to the path to reap the rewards of health and well being, then really I have two choices. One is to continue being disabled in mind, body and spirit and hang onto my old ways of doing things, looking for the magic pill that will heal me without me having to change anything in my lifestyle and causing me to deal with the horrible fall out of another MS attack. Or, I can accept that I’d rather put that time, energy and effort into exercise, diet and a change of attitude that will bring me increased health and well being and no more MS attacks. I am human and stubborn, it took me two years to wrap my head around the fact that it is absolutely necessary for me to do this and become willing to go any lengths for it.

I’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity in my life, as I am sure others have too, and each time it has been the same process. Change or die. There is such a thing as death of spirit too. Doesn’t have to be a mortal death. The process was always enough pain from the conflict to finally cause a moment of defeat and throwing in the towel, thus opening my mind to a better way. Once I do that, there is no more warbling back and forth, I have accepted that this is it. Then I let go of all the “poor me’s” and “its not fair’s”. Of course, there is no hope till the kit of tools is revealed. Diagnosed in 2004, I was not made aware of this till 2014. That said, it is not your fault if you’ve not been shown a way out, but once you have been shown a way that works. Then its your responsibility to give it all you’ve got. To “play the Hell out it”.

I love the quote above from Sheryl Strayed who is the author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail her memoir of her own overcoming journey. A movie adaptation from the book was made called Wild (released 2014) featuring Reese Witherspoon. This is another practice of mine, I am always on the look out for others who rise above their difficulties. I fill my life with them. Instead of filling my heart with the sickest people’s antics, I choose to instead fill it with people getting well. On the 27th this month I am celebrating one year on the Wahls Protocol and will post my before and after pictures. Thank you Dr. Wahls!

Bonne Sante

Picture from Pexels

Quote from the book: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

By Sheryl Strayer

What next?

The sound of steel chains clanking against wood, the feel of a breeze across my face on a sunny day, the sounds of carnival music and children laughing, the fear in the pit of my stomach as we slowly climb the first big hill of a new coaster that I’ve never been on before. Deep down inside, I know we’re safe, but, a horrifying thought, “There is the rare and odd case of a malfunction, like the one I heard of that shot a car of screaming patrons off the tracks and into a billboard sign killing everyone……or was that an urban myth?” “Oh my God, were at the top!” I can see the whole park and half the city from here. We creak up to the tippy top and just begin to crest where I see for the first time just how sharp and steep the trip down will be. Yikes!

This is a how I feel with my plans to hopefully rejoin the work force. I am slowly creaking up the big hill, more than halfway to the top. Most of the time, I am sure it is the correct direction, but that it must be slow, like the car creeping up the tracked hill. Counseling first, volunteer work next, then career counseling and finally the time will be to knock on doors of potential employment situations that will be best suited for me. That day will come when I crest the hill, tipping, and I take the literal plunge. A fleeting thought, “Oh my God, will my car break away from the steady, but fast guidance of the rigid tracks as I fly off and crash and burn!”

Truth is, I don’t know what its like on the other side of that hill, this is a new coaster ride. I do know that chances are infinitely slim that I will fly off the track, because the track I am on is a steady one. It is a well thought out, well advised, researched, prepared for and worked for track, most important is that it is a Higher Powered track and I have faith. I know that the ride will be exhilarating and rewarding. I also know that I will be frightened, but really, really happy too. I love roller coaster rides. Then there is the moment of the fleeting thoughts, “Maybe I shouldn’t do this?! What if….? What if….? And…..What if?!”

Someone shot down my greatest accomplishments in my life on my resume in the space of 60 seconds because they are not suitable to be on a resume. You will be prejudiced against, red flags will be set off with this word and that word. That goes right in line with old paranoia’s that I have worked years to grow out of. Self constructed prisons of, “What will they think?” and, “Who will take me seriously?” I have not had a conventional life, both my failures and my triumphs are controversial to some. Can’t talk about MS, can’t talk about the blog, can’t talk about 26 years clean and sober and all the accomplishments I’ve had with organizing successful events. I wonder if it is okay to list success in drinking events instead. I will not hide my entire life from anyone. I bring all of me or none at all. I said that in college and I wrote honestly and I received nothing but the greatest respect from my teachers and my class mates and one A after another on all my written papers. I said then, “I bring all of myself or nothing.” I will not live a pretend life of safety that was never my real life. My life has been a roller coaster ride that I am not ashamed of. Some of it does belong on a resume. Because I earned it. If someone will prejudice me for that, than why do I want to work for anyone who thinks like that.

Bonne Sante

Marching Forth into Untested Waters

Next month on the 27th marks one year on the Wahls Protocol! Can’t believe its already been eleven months. I won’t say it flew by, it was hard, but it has become second nature and a normal part of my life. So much so, that I’ve become lazy with my blog. The blog’s most important role was to help me learn, stay on track and look back when frustrated at my progress. And, it has done just that. The side benefit is to carry the message to anyone seeking, that this exists.

I am actively living level III, which is nutritional ketosis. I have completely eliminated gluten, dairy and processed sugar (I only have stevia once in a while). I have a fermented serving most days. I eat mostly organic according to the clean 15/dirty dozen list and I eat clean meat which is antibiotic, hormone free and pasture raised.  I have completely failed in the eating organ meat and seaweed sections. But, it is something that I will tackle again.

I practice detoxing by using the steam room at the gym four days a week and I take Epsom and sea salt baths. I have detoxed my household and now use cleaner antiseptics and personal care products and got rid of my microwave and Teflon pans. I continue to improve in this area.

I completed physical therapy with great success. I was blessed with a fantastic physio who knew exactly what didn’t work in my drop foot leg and taught me a series of exercises to strengthen the groups of muscles around what doesn’t work. As a result of that, I walk straighter, my gait is far better, quicker and walking stairs is even better. Physio is over, but I practice the exercises four times a week at the gym. I have completely dropped the ball on e-stim. I need to get back to using that machine.

I am counseling with a fantastic social worker, lucky me. She’s wonderful and doesn’t pull punches, which I like. I am, painfully, taking her suggestions. I have signed up to volunteer on the board of a local theater. If I do that well, then I will continue on into the work force, one prudent step at a time. I am also seeing an occupational therapist for career counseling. She basically said that I have good handle of what I can and cannot do, what is a mystery for all of us, is how many hours of work will affect MS fatigue. I have improved dramatically in this area, however, it is still an issue and these are untested waters. The volunteering is a beginning. I’ll career counsel with an agency soon too.

I am excited for my future! It has been a long, long time since I’ve experienced hope like this. It is profound.

 

Bonne Sante

 

All or Nothing? I Pick All.

When I tackle something, I have learned through the years of my life to bring all of myself or nothing. I am an open book. Following the Wahls Protocol and how I am defeating MS is no different. My goals for this blog have been:

  • To help keep myself motivated and accountable
  • To provide a detailed record of one person’s healing
  • To inspire others
  • To give a truthful account, good and bad
  • To share helpful information and shortcuts that I have learned
  • To give a realistic account that does show how hard, yet how doubly rewarding this has been and is
  • To prove that its all worth it

At this time, as I have written in the past few blogs, I am rehabilitating in preparation for the workforce. I will have a job that fully utilizes all that I have to offer. Too be successful, I have had to look at some tough to swallow truths about myself. I have written about these as I deal with them. Is it wise to publicly speak of a crippling past fear of success, of horrible wreckage at the hands of MS, of darker issues that I have worked very hard to successfully overcome, thereby preparing me for a one hundred percent commitment to the Wahls Protocol?

Fear….what if a future employer reads about these issues and discriminates and I lose the opportunity for this job or that? Here’s my answer to that…..I bring all of myself or nothing. That includes any future job on my horizon. My learned skills, my experiences, and my wisdom comes with me. I once lived in a self constructed prison, terrified that the world would know where I’ve been and what I’ve done and that secretly, deep down inside, I knew you knew that I was worthless. It has taken me a long time to overcome that. Today, I have so much to give, so much I want to learn, and so much to share. Because of the Wahls Protocol, my body is finally catching up to my ambition and drive to help others. My mind is out of the fog, awake and hungry to learn more.

I had a friend in the early 90’s who had Progressive MS. She was diagnosed when she was 18. She managed to complete her degree in education, but was never able to realize her potential in her chosen career. By 26, just as I met her, she lost her right to drive, her husband left her for someone else and she then had to let go of her position as the primary caregiver for their three year old son. She was athletic, she went to the gym five days a week. A tiny, muscular thing. She strained as she forced her spastic legs to walk, her hands shook uncontrollably and the day she messed herself, but then calmly gave us direction to help her, all of us embarrassed for her, whilst she stayed calmer then us all. I think often of her courage and dignity in the face of all that ugliness.

That year a new drug, the first ever, was introduced. Copaxone. I watched her face light up with a renewed hope, only to see it fall just a few days later when she was told that the drug could do nothing for her as she was Progressive. Well Joanne, I just want to say to you, I have relapsing remitting MS and I have been on Copaxone for ten years. I started the drug when I had 20 lesions and now I have double that. I too lost my ability to drive, lost my ability to work, had incontinent bowels and had to give up primary care of my children. So, my dear friend, you missed nothing. She died a few years later, bedridden. When I was diagnosed with MS in 2004, I immediately thought of Joanne. Terrified, having watched what it did to her. If she had been given the knowledge that I have been given, she would’ve jumped on that band wagon in a heartbeat. She was far more disciplined than I am. If she’d known that Dr. Swank had published his 30 year trial on MS and diet with astounding results around the same time as the release of Copaxone, she’d be here telling me about the new exploits of her now adult son.

That’s why I have a responsibility to share my experience, strength and hope and that includes the dark stuff. So anyone afflicted with not just MS, but other autoimmune conditions, can have a chance to take control of their own health again or even better, prevent themselves from ever developing one of these diseases. This is my personal journey, and like all journey’s, though they may be the same road, each will be its own.

My success is in memory of Joanne.

 

Bonne Sante

 

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Living Proof in Early February in Calgary

Below is the information to see Living Proof in Calgary, where and when:

No automatic alt text available.
MS Hope

Landmark Cinemas Canada is hosting screenings of Matt Embry’s documentary Living Proof February 03-05!

Saturday Feb. 03, 2018 1 p.m.
Sunday Feb. 04, 2018 1 p.m.
Monday Feb. 05, 2018 7 p.m.

Surrey – Landmark Cinemas 12 Guilford
GTA – Landmark Cinemas 24 Whitby
Ottawa – Landmark Cinemas 24 Kanata
Calgary – Landmark Cinemas 16 Country Hills
Edmonton – Landmark Cinemas 9 City Centre

TICKETS
Available soon @ https://www.landmarkcinemas.com/film-info/living-proof

Off to see the Social Worker tomorrow!

I have my appointment with her tomorrow at 9 am. Our discussion will be about my intent to go back to work, the possible fall outs, the logistical nightmare with not one but two disability programs in the US and Canada, the need to assess skills against disability I still have, and fears associated with past disasters as a result of unexpected attacks throwing monkey wrenches reocurring again in my life. From there I will have appointments with Occupational Therapists and the MS Psychologist.

When I am done with this phase of my rehabilitation, then I will contact Champions, which is a career counseling program specifically for the disabled. I have a tricky resume and a past full of black holes. Examples:

  • I have 64 college credits in business and writing with a high GPA, but I can’t get my transcripts due to a government bankruptcy I was forced to declare at that time due to, you guessed it, MS.
  • I sold credit cards for MBNA for three years and was one of that telesales center’s best sales performers and sales coaches. But, MBNA sold out to Bank of America, so I have no reference that I can give an employer.
  • I spearheaded grassroots, non profit events from the ground up over 15 years, all successes, all unpaid. The college degree was to back up my experience with a bachelors in business and a minor in writing. The plan was to be a professional events planner.
  • I have seven years experience as a Mental Health Technician. Two years as an Aid at a State Hospital and trained in Crisis Intervention with five years experience on an Acute Mental Health Unit at a community hospital. But, a long time ago, 1980-1982 and 1989-1994, a. shows my age (55), which can discriminate myself from getting the first interview and back then, you didn’t have to have a degree or certificate for these positions. I was hired for the five year position based on my two years experience at the state hospital.
  • Then there’s the years disabled. How do I deal with that with an interviewer and on my resume. Tough one, of which I am not alone. I am assuming that Champions Career Counseling is familiar with this conundrum.

You see the issues, I have a lot of honed skills, but not much proof on paper, although testing will help and once I am hired, my actions will show over time what I am capable of. But, ….to get there. Well, I guess that’s where my Higher Power comes in. I’ll do the foot work, the rest is not mine to control.

Most important to see is that I am on a vista that has a far ranging future. I do not anticipate a future MS attack, not on this lifestyle. Can I gauge that by my own experience, no, its only been ten months. I can, however, gauge it by the many others I’ve talked with and listened to online and in person, who have followed this lifestyle and kept their autoimmune illnesses at bay and in check for years and for some decades. I know this works. Once upon a time, I couldn’t predict what could happen with this illness, now, I feel confident to say, I can.

Wish me luck as I move out into this phase of my journey to health!

 

Bonne Sante

What to do when feeling edgy

That is the title, not because I am an expert on the subject, more because that is the mood that has been plaguing me as of late and one way to change the tract of negative thinking is to focus attention on the opposite of it. I don’t always need to know why I feel this way and thankfully, these days, it isn’t often that I suffer from this and thankfully when I do have days or times like these, I won’t tolerate it by entertaining a mood like that for very long. Its time has come. I will say this, a feeling of powerlessness will push me in this direction. If the situation is truly a deal that I am powerless over, then I won’t have peace till I accept that fact. How can I achieve this then? By writing about my feelings, talking about it with a trusted and wise friend, acknowledging it, changing what I can and accepting what I can’t.

To backtrack a moment to not “entertaining a mood”. What do I mean by that. Anything will grow when attention is given it that feeds it. Like oxygen on a flame or water and sun for a plant. It can be good, it can be bad. What I magnify becomes my result. The choice I have is what I choose to magnify my attention on. Suffice it to say I am in a bad mood. Why? Because I have focused my attention on situations that I clearly have no power over and have forgotten what is good. I let myself get depressed over them and indulged in a a narrow and negative point of view. All of which culminated in hissy fits this morning and then feeling bad about that (lot of self centeredness going on there). To get over this mood and get out of my self centered obsession, I need to do the opposite of what was listed above.

I’m powerless……..I ask for a Higher Power’s strength to do what I need to do to get me out of this funk. Means I need to accept what I have no control over, people, places and things and change my attitude to a constructive one, not destructive.

I’m depressed…….I take self care action. Like extra grooming which is an act of self love, extra time cleaning my living space where I dwell, another act of self love. Forcing myself to show up, in my situation its been within the four walls of my house when alone that I succumb. Therefore, show up at home, do things that interest me and if I’m not interested, do it anyway, get things done, don’t sleep and zone out in front of a TV.

I’m indulging negativity…….I will indulge the positive instead, starting with a gratitude list. I find when I take the time to actively sit down and write out a well thought out gratitude list, it doesn’t take long for me to see that, truly, I’ve got it pretty good.

Self centered thought process…….First off, it has taken a long time for me to even understand what self centered thinking is and how to recognize it, for others, it comes easier, for me, its work to stay out of it. Thinking of others, while forgiving myself for my shortcomings (hard for me). Thinking of others and practicing art are ways to get myself out of my head.

There, I feel better already!

 

Bonne Sante

 

 

Enjoy what is

Decreasing stress is one of the components of the Dr. Wahls Protocol. Stress is known to be a catalyst for illness. My own experience proves that. I was under a great deal of duress building up to becoming sick. Life happens, sometimes it isn’t pleasant. I’m stating the obvious, but its important to look at the truth of that. I have learned over the years due to a different illness I have that relies on the practice of gratitude to stay in remission, how to live in the moment, to look at my part in relationships and mistakes, to do spot check inventories, to make gratitude lists and to enjoy what is. Like anything these habits require a commitment and daily practice. I have had years of successfully applying these practices to my life and I’ve had times when I let them go and let old negative habits creep back in to the detriment of my serenity.  It was during those times that I got sick and running scared, made bad decisions that made the situation ten times worse then it had to be.

How to practice serenity is to be grateful for everything. To remind myself to live in the moment. I like these statements, “God will only give you what you can handle in one day.” and “I have all the money I need provided I die at 12 midnight tonight.” That doesn’t mean that I don’t plan for this or that. It means, I make the appointment, research the information, jot down the idea, then let it go, putting it out of my mind till its time to deal with it. This takes practice and is sometimes easier said then done. However, like anything, practice makes it easier to do, then the rewards flood in from the practice.

Sometimes to get down to a free flowing serene state, I must look at unpleasant truths about myself, especially if the same set of calamities or repeated mistakes happen over and over again. That’s usually a sure fire sign that the fault is mine. Somewhere, there are deep rooted issues that must be unearthed, amends made, myself and others to be forgiven and then, if the work is earnest and sincere then peace for this situation or relationship happens. Other people are usually necessary to help with this, such as support groups, advisers, counseling, religious practices for some people, etc. Food for thought, the smartest and most powerful people on Earth have advisers, the more responsibility they have the more advisers they have. It is, paradoxically, not a sign of weakness, but of strength to seek advice and assistance.

Meditation is the practice of being in the moment. To be aware of all five senses, to quiet the mind, concentrate on breathing, build a deeper communion with a Higher Power if one so chooses, or to feel a deeper connection with the Earth with sounds of nature and thoughts of ancient trees and pathways thru the woods or how the Earth feels on your hands when you plant something. We can do quick, in the moment meditations with everyday mundane activities, like concentrating on the warm sensation of sudsy water as I clean the plate, listening for the sound of clacking silverware when I drag the bottom of the sink for silverware to clean. Or we can do long prepared meditations. Set the scene, a favorite spot in our home that we create the space for. Burn incense maybe, light candles, play serene music or sounds (I like the ocean) or listen to a guided meditation. Exercise and jewelry making are both deep sources of meditation for me. I am completely focused when I create, colors, sewing, the feel of beads in my hands, or exercise, I’m off in my own world. When exercising, I am completely riveted on the teacher, the movement I’m doing, the feel of the water, the weights in my hands, the flexing of the targeted muscles, my breathing. When I do these things, I am not thinking about the bills I need to pay in two weeks, or the appointments I have tomorrow or even in two hours, I am completely in the moment. This is one of the reasons I love doing these two activities. Anxiety, fear of the unknown, causes the body to do certain things, increases heart rate, gasping for breath, racing thoughts of fears and over dwelling on negatives. Meditation is the practice of clearing the mind, deep thoughtful breathing, bringing one’s thinking back to the present moment and the realization that one is safe in that moment. Many fears are of bogeymen that are not happening right now and in most cases may never happen. And if there is a difficult loss occurring, job, family, health, then the practice of these above can make them easier to handle, more manageable by making it possible to take the situation(s) piece meal.

To enjoy what is are all these practices, that is the goal for me. That and humor. A sense of humor can cut stress in half and help keep a heart light. There is always two ways to look at any situation. Most of the time there is something good to consider even when it feels unfair. Here’s a silly joke:

Four men from Boston meet every Sunday to play cards. Clancy, Taylor, John and Ian have known each other for decades. John is the upbeat positive chap in the group. No matter what anyone says he always answers, “It could be worse.” This always rubs Clancy the wrong way. One Sunday, only Clancy, John and Ian show up. Ian, visibly upset, breaks the news to Clancy and John that Taylor is in jail after coming home Saturday night and finding his wife in bed with another man, he shot and killed them both. To which, John says, “It could be worse.” Clancy yells back, “That’s the last straw! You drive me nuts, how could it be worse John, two people are dead and our good friend is in jail, how could it be worse, you tell me that?!” John replied, “It could be worse because he could’ve come home on Friday when I was there.”

It could be worse.

 

Bonne Sante

Stick with the winners

I am forever seeking people who work at and are successful in bettering themselves. Whether it is to be drug and alcohol free, smoke free, spiritually fit, physically fit, or healthy from MS. Whatever it is that I must face and work to be rid of, I seek out winners in that specific issue. Right now in regards to the Dr. Wahls Protocol and my journey to heal MS, I pay attention to those who have successfully followed a healthy lifestyle and put their illness in reverse. When I see this, I watch, learn, listen and do what they are doing. If I want what they have, then I need to do what they do. What I don’t do is put them up on a pedestal or make them different from me by comparing with statements like this, “Oh, they are special and I could never be like that.” or, “They have it easier and they have money, so its easier for them”. These are nothing but excuses to quit. This is what I utilize when I get negative. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I love that psalm from the Bible. It has gotten me through all kinds of situations that I was terrified of and didn’t feel I was capable of doing, deserving of having or good enough to be included in. I’ll give an example.

I have had the opportunity to go to college, but at one time I had a seventh grade education. I got my G.E.D. at age 33 and went to college at 43. I am a recovered alcoholic and sobered up when I was 28, 26 years ago. Several years into my recovery at age 32, I was inspired to start a sober festival, very much like a “soberstock”. Six months into the footwork for this I spotted a three day grant writing course in a Daniel Webster College brochure that didn’t require a high school diploma to attend. Our mission was going to need funds and backers. Going to that course was scary for me. I hadn’t been in a classroom since I was in the 7th grade. That grade I was suspended six times, missed 83 days of school and got straight F’s. I guess, technically, that means I had a 6th grade education.

The first day, I asked God for help and marched in. I picked up a folder in a pile of them, then oohed and aahed over the nice pens and paper and tin Daniel Webster College book mark. We sat and the teacher began her monologue. An hour into it, there was a constant reference to “margins” and “fonts”. I stopped her several times to explain what is a margin, what is a font….? Embarrassing. There were four of us taking this course. One was a woman there on behalf of a school district to write a grant for computers for them. A man who was a Social Worker on behalf of Big Brothers and Big Sisters. And a woman on behalf of Camp Heartland to write a grant for children with aids to go to summer camp. And me, for the Half Moon Sober Festival, something no one ever heard of. We hadn’t even had our first event yet. It took everything I had to walk back into that room the next day. When I pulled up, I stepped out of the car and opened up the back door to get my folder. While I did that, I got on one knee like I was searching for something and asked God to help me, saying my favorite saying, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

That day we were instructed to write our grants that night and bring them in the next day. I wrote my grant out and brought it in. I quickly noticed the beautifully typed and clean grants the others created. I looked at my pathetic lined paper, handwritten, chicken scrawl complete with crossed out words and sentences. We were then instructed to grade each other’s work. Thoroughly and completely humiliated, I got through it. But, miracle of miracles, I learned how to write a grant. I found someone with computer skills to set my words to paper carefully following the layout instructions of the grant writing instructor. The first grant we applied for, my proposal got us an invitation as one of only 10 invitees out of many that were denied. Out of that ten, only five would be selected for the grant. This was not a huge grant, but for us it was. Five thousand dollars annually. A fair amount for a small grass roots non profit in 1995. They complimented me on the grant. I was the only one there who wasn’t collecting a pay check from the non profit they were representing.  After a presentation we won the grant and a number of others with that same basic proposal.

My confidence was so bolstered by all of this, that I finally made the decision to go for my G.E.D. Afraid that I was as stupid as I usually felt and was assumed to be, I was amazed when I passed the practice G.E.D with marks in the 80’s and was directed to go ahead and take the test, which I passed. I put that off for ten years out of fear and lack of confidence. Ten years before that, I had an appointment to take the test. But, the day of the test, one hour before, I chickened out. Ten years later, “Higher Powered”, I was doing things and facing things I never could before, all because I thought I had God with me. Feeling empowered and not alone. I find that if what I do serves a purpose, then the doors open up. It doesn’t matter to me what other people believe. Its none of my business, I respect other people’s beliefs. This works for me.

Doors have opened up for me to get well from an incurable disease. Am I being cured by God? Not really. Am I working my %ss off? Yes. Am I doing the footwork, reading the books, following the examples of the “winners” before me? Yes, yes and yes. However,  day in and day out, I turn to a Higher Power for fortitude and strength. Maybe its the belief that I am a woman acting as if a loving, powerful entity is behind her that does it. Who cares what it is, its working!

Speaking of winners, in reference to the Protocol, specifically. I was involved in starting a support group for people with MS. This was just before starting the Protocol. I had a very powerful message from a one time attendee, Matt Embry in remission over 20 years, who spoke of a lifestyle like Dr. Wahls. Dr. Wahls began her research with Matt Embry’s father’s research. I started the Wahls Protocol straight away the very next day. My focus switched to that of wellness. The group’s focus was on the disease. Not where I want to be. I quit the group and joined The Wahls Protocol Facebook group, bought books, and watch for others successful on a natural diet, whether its Wahls’, Swank’s, Emery’s, Jelinek’s, whoever. I am on the look out for examples of success with this diet. I have had bad moments (which I am honest about here), but that’s where my Higher Power comes in.

I read another example of success in my Facebook feed today posted by Matt Embry. I’ll share this interview for you here:

http://www.msdietforwomen.com/living-well-ms-24-years-interview

Very inspiring example!

 

Bonne Sante